With the major league trading deadline coming in less than three weeks, the rumor mill has been very active, especially regarding the Cleveland Indians.
Most of the supposed deals have the Tribe getting pitching, since they rank 12th in the American League in ERA, and recently their bullpen has provided more ups and downs than the roller coasters at Cedar Point.
However, one that hit this week really shocked us. ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that Cleveland is talking to the St. Louis Cardinals about SS Asdrubal Cabrera, who is having a down year to this point in the season.
While the Cardinals have a lot of young pitching in their organization, this seems to be the kind of move that would be made if a team was out of the pennant race or in the off-season, not 2-1/2 games out as we approach the All-Star break.
This is true for several reasons. First, Cabrera isn’t hitting as well as he has in the past, meaning his market value is down. Here are the shortstop’s OPS over the last few years–
His lifetime OPS is 752, so right now he is 30 points below his average season, and around 70 points behind his best seasons of ’09 and ’11. At 27 years old, he figures to still be capable of getting back to the 800 level.
Many people feel the Tribe can afford to deal the two-time all-star because of the availability of Mike Aviles, but that is poorly thought out for two reasons. Aviles is a much better hitter as a part-time player, hitting just .250 in his lone year as a regular in Boston last season. His career batting average is .275.
Also, who would replace Aviles on the bench? The Indians’ success this season has come in part because their bench is very strong, getting big production out of players like Aviles, Ryan Raburn, Jason Giambi, and Yan Gomes.
Who would take over Aviles’ role as the utility infielder? That’s a big question that GM Chris Antonetti has to think about.
A trade would make sense if the Tribe would be getting back a proven major league starting pitcher in return, but it doesn’t appear that would be the case. Most of the names involved are Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, Michael Wacha, and Carlos Martinez, all top 10 prospects for the Cardinals.
However, out of the four of them, Miller has the most experience, a total of 19 big league starts. As good as Miller is reported to be, there is no evidence that he will be a successful starter for a team in a race for the playoffs. Plus, his highest inning total in the minors is 151, meaning the Cleveland front office would want to limit his to around 175 for the season.
He has already thrown 104 on the season.
This trade would make a lot more sense in the winter. By then, prime prospect SS Francisco Lindor will have half a year at the AA level, meaning he could be promoted to the bigs sometime during the 2014 season.
The Indians could get away with a half-year of Aviles starting as short with Lindor taking over in the middle of the year. Don’t forget the Tribe has a plethora of middle infield players on the horizon, with SS Ronny Rodriguez playing at Akron now and maybe moving to Columbus soon.
Dealing a player like Cabrera for pitching help would make sense since the Tribe would be dealing from strength. Just not now with the team in contention.
That just doesn’t make sense.